Posted by the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
Monday, September 19, 2011 at 5:06 p.m.

As children return to school this month across the Capital Region, a coalition of tobacco-free organizations released the results of a Summer Community Survey conducted by Siena Research Institute (SRI) across 17 counties in the Capital Region showing overwhelming support for restrictions on tobacco sales to protect our children from tobacco marketing.

Research in the U.S. and abroad suggests that exposure to in-store tobacco promotions is a primary cause of youth smoking. Very few adult smokers begin after high school, with 90 percent of adult smokers starting at or before age 18.

Analysis provided by SRI concluded that two thirds of the residents of the 17 county capital region, and no fewer than 60% in each county say that tobacco products should not be sold in stores that are located near schools.  58% of residents support regulations banning the sale of tobacco products in stores that are located near schools.   56% think that tobacco products should not even be visible in stores.

“It’s very evident from this survey that Capital Region residents want to get tobacco products and their marketing out of view and that the sale of cigarettes should not be near schools.  We know that the more tobacco marketing that our children see, the more likely they are to smoke,” stated Judy Rightmyer, Director of the Capital District Tobacco Free Coalition.

In-store promotions are a major cause of youth smoking.  A National Cancer Institute study concluded that exposure to cigarette advertising causes nonsmoking adolescents to initiate smoking and to move toward becoming regular smokers.  Another study found young people are more likely to be influenced by cigarette advertising than by peer or parental smoking.  A 2008 analysis found a direct relationship between increased teen smoking and the density of tobacco retailers around schools, while a paper published earlier this year found a direct relationship between the frequency that a kid visited stores containing tobacco advertising and his or her risk of becoming a smoker.

“Tobacco advertisements are everywhere. I can’t purchase my items in peace knowing others are resting in peace because of these products. I don’t want to be targeted anymore,” said Jamie Bates, Saratoga County Reality Check member.

As a result of the recent Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FDA law) and the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), retail stores are one of the last places where tobacco companies can expose children to their advertising.  Consequently, tobacco companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing their deadly products at the point of sale.  This is done by controlling dominant display space in retail stores and through in-store advertising.  Both are typically found around the cash register, sometimes referred to within the industry as the “goal post” because it is the one place in the store where everyone must go.  Tobacco companies invest a lot at these locations in creating so-called “power walls,” large, visually appealing displays of products intended to attract the interest of customers.

Finally, 58% of respondents support a requirement in New York State similar to Ontario, Canada.  Since May of 2008 the Smoke-Free Ontario Act requires that, no person shall display or permit the display of tobacco products in any place where tobacco products are sold or offered for sale in any manner that will permit a consumer to view any tobacco product before purchasing the tobacco.  Already, major supermarket chains in the region such as Price Chopper and Hannaford have or are beginning to voluntarily remove tobacco products from display and place them in secure, discreet cabinets.

“The results are indisputable.   Capital Region residents no longer want to be bombarded with tobacco imagery and would rather remove tobacco products completely out of sight where they shop,” said Matthew Andrus of the Southern Adirondack Tobacco-Free Coalition.

SRI conducted six separate surveys this summer on behalf of the six Tobacco-Free Coalitions working within a 17 county area in the Capital Region.  All 5,969 total respondents are representative of the seventeen county universes and were weighted to reflect the relative population.  The data that SRI reports across the 17 county area has a margin of error of +/- 1.3% at the 95% confidence level.

The individual counties surveyed were: Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Montgomery, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, Washington.   For questions regarding methodology and analysis please contact Dr. Don Levy at SRI, 518-783-2901 or

About the Community Partners: The Adirondack Tobacco-Free Coalition, Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition, Project Action, Rip Van Winkle Tobacco-Free Coalition, Rural Three for Tobacco-Free Communities and Southern Adirondack Tobacco-Free Coalition are a group of grassroots coalitions of local agencies and individuals committed to creating a tobacco-free environment.  The partners are all grant funded programs from the New York State Department of Health, Tobacco Control Program.  Together they work to decrease the social acceptability of tobacco use, eliminate exposure to second hand smoke and prevent the initiation of tobacco use among youth and young adults.   For more information on the partners and their programs, go to:

Adirondack Tobacco-Free Coalition

Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition

Project Action

Rip Van Winkle Tobacco-Free Coalition

Rural Three for Tobacco-Free Communities

Southern Adirondack Tobacco-Free Coalition

About the Siena Research Institute: Founded in 1980 at Siena College in Latham, New York, the Siena Research Institute (SRI) conducts regional, statewide and national surveys on business, economic, political, voter, social, academic and historical issues. The surveys include both expert and public opinion polls.  The results of SRI surveys have been published in major regional and national newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as in scholarly journals, books and an encyclopedia.

Point of Sale and Youth Tobacco Use Facts:

  • Tobacco companies spend billions each year to market their deadly products in convenience stores, grocery stores and pharmacies.  In 2006, tobacco companies spent $12.5 billion nationally on advertising promotions and price discounts for wholesalers and retailers.
  • Stores are one of the last venues where tobacco advertising can influence youth to begin smoking.  Ads on TV, radio and billboards are banned, as well as cartoon characters, sponsorships and giveaways. Magazine advertising is restricted to predominantly adult-oriented publications. In-store advertising, promotions and product displays remain.
  • Although many adults are not aware of the effect of in-store tobacco ads on youth, research shows that exposure to tobacco marketing in stores is a primary cause of youth smoking.
  • In-store tobacco ads are located to entice youth.  Ads are often placed near candy and toys, and on the front of counters less than five feet in height.
  • Weekly or more frequent exposure to retail tobacco marketing is associated with a 50 percent increase in the odds that adolescents will ever smoke, according to the American Journal of Public Health.
  • In an Australian study, ninth graders were shown digitally-manipulated photos of a retail cash register area.  Compared to the students shown photos with no cigarettes, those exposed to photos displaying cigarette advertising and pack displays thought it would be easier to purchase cigarettes, and were better able to recall specific cigarette brands.
  • Methods tobacco companies use to market in stores:
    • Payments and incentives to retailers to prominently display tobacco products.
    • In store advertising.
    • Large tobacco product displays called “power walls” that function as a subtle form of advertising, conveying the message that cigarettes are popular and desirable.
    • Price discounts.
  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.  In New York, tobacco kills more than 25,000 people a year.
  • The New York State youth (ages 12 – 17) smoking rate is 8.2 percent.
  • The New York State smoking rate for high school students is 14.8%.
  • 90 percent of adult smokers began at or before age 18. Very few begin after high school.
  • Tobacco is not a normal consumer product – it kills when used as intended.
  • Communities can reduce youth exposure to tobacco advertising in stores by banning the display of tobacco products and restricting the location and number of licensed tobacco retailers.